S.C. Reps. Wendell Gilliard of Charleston and Deon Tedder of North Charleston will head to a Tuesday runoff election for Democratic nomination for the S.C. Senate District 42 seat. But over the weekend, each received last-minute endorsements from political allies.
Tedder announced on Saturday that South Carolina Democratic kingpin and U.S. Rep. James Clyburn endorsed his campaign. Meanwhile, CNN commentator and former S.C. Rep. Bakari Sellers, who represented the Bamberg area, endorsed Gilliard on Sunday.
In a statement, Clyburn said, “”Deon Tedder is a fighter. He fought for us in the state House. And he’ll fight for us in the state Senate. He’s the candidate who has the passion to make a difference.”
Tedder is a graduate of S.C. State University and the University of South Carolina School of Law. He currently lives in North Charleston and works as an attorney. During his time as a state representative, Tedder has been an advocate for historically Black colleges and universities, and has been a leader in the fight against attempts to censor Black history from being taught in the classroom as a member of the House Education and Public Works Committee.
Gilliard, a longtime labor activist and former Charleston city council member, has been a voice for gun reform, introducing legislation to ban assault weapons and place metal detectors in public schools. He also has spearheaded efforts to pass a hate crimes law in South Carolina following the deadly massacre at Emanuel AME Church in 2015.
“People all across the country are coming in trying to influence the outcome of this race,” Sellers said in his endorsement of Gilliard. “But don’t be fooled, do not be fooled. For far too long, we have sat by and watched our neighborhoods be gentrified and were passed by for good-paying jobs. Our history is being removed from schools and our land and legacy are being taken away by special interests.”
He said special interests sought to hold onto power by diluting opposing voices.
“Wendell Gilliard has always stood with us, always fought for us and always will,” Sellers said. “This is an opportunity to send a message that District 42 is not for sale to the special interest.”
Neither Gilliard nor Tedder got the majority of the vote in the Sept. 5 primary. With a 7% voter turnout, Gilliard claimed 46% of the vote, and Tedder claimed 38%, according to official results. S.C. Rep. J.A. Moore of North Charleston came in third with 15% of the vote.
The special Senate election follows former S.C. Sen. Marlon Kimpson’s decision to step down to join President Joe Biden’s administration. Kimpson had held the District 42 seat since 2013.
Polls will be open on Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The winner of the runoff election will then face Republican candidate Rosa Kay in the general election on Nov. 7.
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